If there’s something frustrating about Haifa (and Jerusalem too, for that matter), it is the issue of bicycles. The bicycle, which in Tel Aviv is considered an efficient means of transportation, simply doesn’t work in a city with all slopes and hills. As for those who claim: “nonsense, a little fitness is good for you,” ask them to pedal up Freud Road. That may be why Haifa’s staircases are such an attraction. Dozens connect upper and lower Haifa, helping residents manoeuvre the city. Ironically, the city began developing from the bottom up, starting with Downtown and the German Colony, via Hadar Hacarmel and the neighbourhoods above it to Central Carmel. The staircases offer scenic vantage points, colourful lanes and hidden spots. Instead of wearing yourself out climbing the stairs, proceed from the top and make your way downtown.
The recommended starting point for the journey of 1,000 steps is Yaffe Nof Street (“beautiful view” in Hebrew). From there, you can see the Krayot suburbs as well as the mountains of both the Upper and Lower Galilee and, on a clear day, even Mt. Hermon.
Next to the corner of Yaffe Nof and Sha’ar Halevanon, you’ll find the staircase leading down to Henrietta Szold Street. The route was once called the Donkey’s Path because the donkey caravans carried construction materials in the 1920s and 30s. Pines are scattered between oaks and terebinths (Ela in Hebrew).
Universal Hall of Justice is the seat of the Baha’i faith’s highest religious authority, which governs communities worldwide. Haifa is the world centre of the Baha’i, a relatively young religion founded in Persia in the 19th century. The religion’s prophet, Báb, born Sayyed ‘Alí Muhammad Shírází, is buried in the gold-domed temple known as the Shrine of the Bab. Opposite the gate of the Hall of Justice, unlike the Shrine of the Bab, which is not open to the general public
Crossing Hatzionut Boulevard, we get a closer view of the golden dome.
Hatzionut (Zionism) was initially called U.N. Boulevard in recognition of the international organization’s decision to establish a Jewish state. The name was changed in 1975 in protest against the General Assembly’s infamous resolution equating Zionism with racism.
The descent on the Shifra steps leads us to low stone houses with decorative gardens and Mediterranean-style fruit trees. Christians, Muslims and Jews live here as good neighbours.
At the end of the steps, on Abbas Street, you’ll find the Sisters of Nazareth Convent. The street is named after Abbas Effendi, aka Abdul Baha, the son of the founder of the Baha’i religion. After his father's death, he worked to spread the new religion around the world and built the Baha’i temple on Mt. Carmel. He died in Haifa in 1921 and was buried alongside Bab. Only later was the golden dome erected over their tomb.
After descending another set of steps, you’ll reach Germanim and Hagefen streets. These were the streets where Haifa’s Muslims and Christian elite once lived; HaCramim and HaGefen streets commemorate the vineyards planted by the Templers on the slopes. Here we can see large, elegant stone houses surrounded by wide courts. Turning left on Hagefen, we’ll notice the difference between Templer houses and houses built later by Christian Arabs.
Upon reaching the square, we will see the German Colony (Ben-Gurion Boulevard), on the way to Beit Dagon and the Baha’i Gardens in their entire splendour. At the end of the tour, those who took it faced a decision - climbing back up 1,000 steps or just hopping on Bus No. 22, which does not operate on Shabbat.